Rant Sports NFL Experts Pick Against the Spread for Week 15
Welcome to the first ever edition of Rant Sports NFL expert picks against the spread. There are plenty of exciting matchups to watch this weekend and, as usual, there are plenty of boring games I want no part of. We don't discriminate here at Rant Sports though and we're going to be giving our thoughts on the spreads of every game in Week 15. The spreads were taken from Football Locks.
Picking the games will be resident Chicago Bears fan Jonathan Carroll, Dallas Cowboys fan Jeric Griffin, Atlanta Falcons fan Michael Collins, Philadelphia Eagles fan Dan Parzych and myself, self-proclaimed greatest New York Giants fan on the planet.
The best matchup of the weekend and the one I definitely won't be missing is the San Francisco 49ers traveling to take on the New England Patriots. The Patriots are playing their best football right now and the defense is actually starting to come around. Newly appointed 49ers starter Colin Kaepernick will be looking to leave no doubt as to who the quarterback is moving forward. Who will win? Find out what our experts think.
Do you agree with our picks or are we a bunch of boneheads? If you think the later, reach out to us on Twitter with the hash tag #RML, which stands for Rant My Life.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (+3)
Jeric: Chicago is headed downhill and I mean fast while Green Bay is starting to find its rhythm.
Dan: Even though the offense has struggled over the last couple of weeks, there's nothing the Packers would love more than to put the final dagger in the Bears for the NFC North with a big win in Chicago. The Bears have lost four of five and with the offensive line failing to protect Jay Cutler--they appear to be on their way to losing five of six.
Michael: The Packers look like they are starting to gel despite missing some key players, and right now the Bears are reeling after losing four out of their last five. Despite that, the Bears will pull the upset and beat the Packers at home.
Jonathan: As a Bears fan, this season gets more painful. Sunday may be another wasted three hours of my life. Aaron Rodgers puts on a clinic and the Bears get killed. I'm taking the Packers and the points.
Me: The Bears have not looked good lately and have struggled against the premier teams in the league. No Brian Urlacher means a Green Bay cover.
Consensus: Packers 4-1
New York Giants at Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)
Jeric: Like Chicago, the wheels seem to be coming off Atlanta's bandwagon. This is a close spread, but the Giants are going to win regardless.
Dan: The Falcons tend to play well at home and are coming off that disappointing loss to the Panthers in Week 14. Plus, a lack of a running game could hurt the Giants in this one--so expect Atlanta to come out firing as they look to stay on top of the NFC.
Michael: The Falcons, despite some offensive struggles of late, are tough at home and have some revenge in mind after last year's playoff blanking by the Giants. The Giants secondary will have a tough time keeping up with the Atlanta receivers. I'll take Atlanta and the points.
Jonathan: The Giants are really two different teams. When they're good, they're good. But when they're bad, they're really bad. But this week they'll be good. I am taking the Giants with the points.
Me: The Falcons are a much better team on the road and could win a close game. The Giants have been successful against the Falcons lately but that could change this weekend. All that said, the Falcons are overrated and the Giants should win, so take them to cover.
Consensus: Giants 3-2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3)
Jeric: Tampa Bay has really started to turn things around, but an angry Drew Brees at home won't end well for the visiting team.
Dan: Last weekend's game against the Eagles shows how much the Buccaneers' offense has been struggling over the last couple of weeks. As for the Saints, don't be surprised if Drew Brees takes advantage of the league's worst passing defense.
Michael: The Saints got some good news this week with the vacating of the bounty scandal suspensions, but that wont save them against a potent Tampa Bay offense. Tampa Bay covers and then some.
Jonathan: The Saints got some good news this week in regards to Bountygate. I think they'll carry this over and lay a whoopin on the Bucs. I'll take the Saints and the points.
Me: Saints at home and only favored by three is easy money. Give me Drew Brees against the league’s worst pass defense.
Consensus: Saints 4-1
Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams (-3)
Jeric: These are two pretty evenly-matched teams, but the difference is Adrian Peterson. The man is playing possessed right now and St. Louis has no chance of slowing him down.
Dan: Adrian Peterson has recorded at least 100 rushing yards in seven-straight games and is 400 rushing yards away from the 2,000-yard mark. Expect his recent hot streak to continue on Sunday and keep Minnesota's playoff hopes alive.
Michael: Will we see the St. Louis Rams that tied and beat the S.F. 49ers, or the hapless bunch that lost to the NY Jets? Minnesota seems to be clicking right now, and if they can protect Ponder, this should be a solid victory. Take the Vikings against the spread.
Jonathan: When something looks too good to be true, it usually is. Why are the Vikings dogs at the Rams? So I am going to agree with the experts and take the Rams and the points.
Me: These two teams are two of the more difficult to read, but I like Adrian Peterson who is trying to guide his team to the playoffs. Both are in the hunt, but it will be hard to stop a motivated AD. Give me the Vikings with that spread.
Consensus: Vikings 4-1
Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns (+1)
Jeric: A one-point spread means it's pretty much a tossup, but red-hot Washington is even more effective with Kirk Cousins at the helm and the Redskins will have no problem knocking off lowly Cleveland.
Dan: Even if RG III doesn't play or isn't 100 percent, the Redskins seem to be one of the hottest teams in football over the last four weeks. Plus, Kirk Cousins proved he's capable of leading this offense--so Washington has that going for them.
Michael: RG3 still up in the air, and the Redskins are fighting for a playoff spot. Meanwhile the Cleveland Browns are quietly playing some good football of late. But I think Griffin goes for Washington, and squeaks out a victory. Take the Skins and 1 point.
Jonathan: The Browns are hot. The Redskins may not have RG3. As it stands, the line on this contest is small. I like the Browns. They're keeping hope alive and will cover and win.
Me: RGIII should play after practicing both Wednesday and Thursday, so I expect them to beat the Browns despite this being on the road. I don’t see any way a push happens, so take the Redskins.
Consensus: Redskins 4-1
Jacksonville Jaguars at Miami Dolphins (-7)
Jeric: Miami might win this game, but not by more than seven points. Jacksonville certainly isn't "good" enough to do much, but the Jaguars can stay within seven points of the Dolphins.
Dan: Despite their disappointing record, the Dolphins deserve some credit for the fight they've put up over the last couple of weeks against playoff contenders. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have been looking forward to 2013 for a few weeks now with the way this year has gone.
Michael: This is exactly the kind of game the Dolphins can't afford to lose, and it's exactly the kind of game they usually end up dumping. Miami will still eek out a victory, but take the Jags to cover the spread.
Jonathan: The battle of Florida is a bad one. No one really wins. But I'll take the Fins and the points.
Me: Like Jonathan said, nobody really wins here, but I’ll take the Jaguars to cover. The Dolphins aren’t good enough offensively to cover a touchdown.
Consensus: Jaguars 3-2
Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (+2.5)
Jeric: Give me Denver and the points until Peyton Manning hoists the Lombardi Trophy. Baltimore will lose yet another game at home because no one will beat the Broncos again this year.
Dan: Peyton Manning has owned the Ravens since losing the first two games of his career against them and the Broncos look like one of the hottest teams in football as they've won eight-straight games. Plus, Baltimore could be going through an adjustment after losing two-straight games and firing Cam Cameron earlier in the week.
Michael: What's tougher to bet against...Peyton Manning in the middle of December, or the Ravens losing 2 straight games at home? Possible let down game for the Broncos, I'll take the Ravens against that spread.
Jonathan: This looks like a great matchup. The Ravens are an up and down team. But I think the Ravens will find some magic and win. I'll take the Ravens to win and cover.
Me: The Ravens are a mess defensively and the Broncos need to win to keep their chances of a first-round bye in tact. Give me Peyton and the points.
Consensus: Broncos 3-2
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-8.5)
Jeric: This is an outrageous spread for a slumping Houston team hosting a red-hot Indianapolis team that I picked to win this division. That's unlikely at this point, but the Colts will be in the playoffs and they will win this game, so give me the underdog.
Dan: There's no question the Colts have been hot lately, but the Texans have the advantage in this one based off experience. Expect Houston to come out firing on offense after their embarrassing loss to New England on Monday night.
Michael: Short week, embarrassed on national television, and another chance to capture the division. No question the Texans have a lot on their plate, but I think they still beat the Colts, but not by much. Take Indy to cover the spread.
Jonathan: The Texans were beaten down last week by the Patriots. The Colts continue to win. I like the Colts to cover, but not win.
Me: The Colts are playing well right now and the Texans can’t stop anyone defensively. If the Colts can’t cover 8.5 I don’t know football.
Consensus: Colts 4-1
Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers (-3)
Jeric: San Diego cannot be trusted...ever. Carolina will definitely keep it within a field goal.
Dan: Even if it is a case of too little, too late for the Chargers, it's difficult to imagine the Panthers coming out on top while on the road in this one. San Diego is carrying momentum from their big win against Pittsburgh and should be in for another big game against Carolina.
Michael: You want to bet against Cam Newton after what he and the Panthers did to Atlanta last week? Not me. Carolina is finally starting to come together and catch some breaks. Look for the Panthers to win big in this one. Bye Bye Norv.
Jonathan: The Chargers have slim playoff hopes. The Panthers looked really good. I like the Chargers in this matchup. But I think the Panthers will cover. So take the Panthers and the points.
Me: I like the Panthers to cover here because just when you think the Chargers are decent (with a win over the Steelers), they will come out an lay an egg. Cam Newton is playing well, they’ll win by a touchdown.
Consensus: Panthers 4-1
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills (+5)
Jeric: After a 58-0 thrashing of Arizona, give me Seattle and the points. Russell Wilson and company will beat Buffalo by at least a touchdown.
Dan: For some reason, the Bills continue to stay away from using C.J. Spiller more in the ground game--which has hurt them throughout the regular season. However, this seems like the perfect trap game for a Seahawks team that has struggled on the road for most of the season
Michael: Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills...and nobody runs up the score like Pete Carroll. But the Seahawks don't travel well, especially to the east coast. Take the Bills against that spread.
Jonathan: The Seahawks are feeling good at the moment. The Bills are not. I think the Seahawks will win but not cover. I am taking the Bills and the points.
Me: The Seahawks are a dominant defensive team and the Bills can’t stop the run. The Seahawks will go to Buffalo and win by a touchdown. They should win by more but they are making the dreaded West to East coast road trip.
Consensus: Bills 3-2
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (+6)
Jeric: Did you see Arizona play last week? This spread could have been 16 and I still would have picked Detroit.
Dan: The Cardinals haven't broken the 20-point mark since Week 4 and have lost nine-straight games. Is there really much to say about this matchup? Detroit's offense will simply be too much for Arizona to handle on Sunday.
Michael: This is a game where you ask who's bad luck is going to end first...the Lions or the Cardinals? The Lions look like a team that has given up on their coach. The Cardinals still have some fight in them and will be looking for redemption after last week's embarrassment against Seattle. Arizona covers and most likely wins.
Jonathan: Cardinals have invented football bad. The Lions invent ways to lose. But the Lions will win on Sunday and cover. Take the Lions and the points.
Me: The Cardinals are awful in every facet right now. Give me Lions running away.
Consensus: Lions 4-1
Pittsburgh Steelers at Dallas Cowboys (+2)
Jeric: It will be a three-point win for Pittsburgh by a last-second field goal by Shaun Suisham, which means the Steelers will cover in Dallas.
Dan: With the way the Ravens have been playing the last two weeks, the Steelers realize how much of an opportunity they blew last week by losing at home to the Chargers. Pittsburgh knows this is a must win if they have any chance at the playoffs--so expect Big Ben and company to bounce back in this one.
Michael: It's December, in a playoff push. Tony Romo. Need I say more? Pittsburgh redeems themselves from last week and easily runs over the Cowboys who will be minus a lot of key players.
Jonathan: It is like the '70s all over again. The Steelers looked terrible last week. The Cowboys are riding a bit of an emotional streak. I think the Cowboys win and cover at home. Take the Pokes an the points.
Me: With the Steelers coming off a loss to the Chargers, they will be out to keep their playoff hopes alive and the Cowboys have too many injuries. Steelers will win a close game and cover.
Consensus: Steelers 4-1
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Jeric: Oakland may win, but not by more than three.
Dan: This may be the game of the week that draws the least amount of interest considering how bad both teams have played this season. The Raiders' offense just can't seem to get anything consistent going over the last couple of weeks so in a battle of disappointments--expect the Chiefs to come out on top.
Michael: As if anyone is actually going to watch or bet on this game. Oh well. Take the Raiders to cover in what was once a pretty good rivalry.
Jonathan: This is the NFL at its finest I am taking the Raiders to win and cover because I've been asked to predict something. But I really have no feeling either way.
Me: I have no idea what to make of this game between two terrible teams. I would stay away from it, but if I had to, give me the Chiefs to cover. Jamaal Charles will run all over that terrible defense.
Consensus: Chiefs 3-2
San Francisco 49ers at New England Patriots (-5.5)
Jeric: This spread is insane for an extremely dangerous San Francisco team on the road. This will be a three-point game, which means even if New England wins, the Patriots won't cover.
Dan: Easily two teams that could represent their conference in the Super Bowl this year and don't be surprised if this game goes down to the wire. The Patriots may have the advantage playing at home, but the 49ers' defense will make things difficult for Tom Brady and company.
Michael: Tom Brady doesn't lose at home in December. Period. End of story. Colin Kaepernick might even get benched in this one. New England wins big and covers.
Jonathan: This is an exciting matchup. The Patriots are basically sending messages every week. This Sunday night will be no exception. I am taking the Patriots to win and cover. Because they are just that good.
Me: This is one of the premier matchups of the weekend and given that it is in New England, I like the Patriots to win by a touchdown. They are playing too good right now.
Consensus: Patriots 3-2
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (-1.5)
Jeric: New York is on the road, but they'll win by using Braylon Edwards as a decoy.
Dan: Who would have thought a few weeks ago the Jets would be in contention for a playoff spot in the AFC? Their final three games are against teams with a combined 14 wins and a little help from a few other teams could help them get into the postseason.
Michael: The Jets are going to try to get back to .500 and keep their tissue thin playoff hopes alive. The Titans are just trying to show signs of life. Take the Jets to cover, and put an extra sawbuck on Tim Tebow making it into this game.
Jonathan: The Jets are still alive for the playoffs. They'll find a way to win on Monday night and cover. The Titans aren't very good.
Me: Neither one of these teams are very good, but the Titans can’t stop the run and the Jets are fighting for their playoff lives. This is a good matchup for the Jets and they should win.
Consensus: All Jets